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References - a question to any heads out there?

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by anon1065, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. There are no set rules and different institutions will act in different ways. We compile a shortlist and call references when we know we want to interview a candidate. If you are concerned then I would state in CV that you would like to be informed prior to a certain reference being called. I would see this as a candidate asking for discretion whilst being respectful to her current employers.

    Heads are fair likelier to give a negative reference if they are surprised by a reference request than if they have been pre-warned. Finally, most people believe that they are a good judge of character and Heads in particular are prone to thinking this. Yet In all he schools that I've worked in there have been a few colleagues that I can't believe have been employed. My point is that most Heads will have wrongly doubted negative references, been lied to at interview and wrongly trusted positive references that they should have seen through.

    To conclude, I would remind the Head that they had agreed to be a referee if you have added them as a referee or contact the prospective employer and say that you would prefer if they could contact you before seeking references.
  2. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Of course not - not if you're any good.
    But strange to say, most heads I've known, while frail enough to vent their pain or anger initially, will summon up sufficient philosophical and professional detachment to do the right thing by you, once they've finished chewing their tear-drenched carpet.
    When going a-wooing, and the season is upon us even now, we write to potential interviewees, telling them the dates we intend to be in London and giving them ballpark figures regarding likely salary and benefits.
    If there is no serious 'ishoo' with either of the above, our next mail will enquire, "may we contact Dr Doolittle and Mrs DeVille now, or would you prefer us to await the outcome of the interview?"
    At a rough estimate, three-quarters of candidates tell us to go right ahead and mail their current employer. The rest will feel, as you do, that they would rather not expend political or emotional capital telling a jealous and potentially violent unstable egomaniac that they are seeking True Love elsewhere, unless and until the Other Person actually comes through with an engagement ring.
    That is fine by us, although it does mean that the Jilted Wonder will hear the bad news later in the day, and as a fait accompli rather than a mere unpleasant possibility. Worse, the Unhappy Cuckold will be hassled for a reference ASAP. Still nursing our hangovers from the London trip, we will immediately start badgering him for something in writing, for without that, of course, there can be no nuptial day.
    Put yourself in your head's shoes. It's March 25th and your suitcases are packed for that Easter holiday in Barbados, and suddenly - ***!, here's some cocky nincompoop mailing you from godforsaken Ruritania to say that he has secured the affections of the fair Ms Millreef and wants you to let her go gracefully with a few golden words.
    I heartily dislike being in that position, preferring colleagues to let me know as soon as they start looking elsewhere, so that, if thus inclined, I can fall at their feet wheedling, " Dearest Heart, we both know I have disappointed you in ever so many ways. But give me a second chance, for I believe I still have it in me to make you happy..."
    And just consider this: a head may even be saintly enough to swallow the lump in his throat and a fistful of tranqilisers and exclaim, "Ruritania, my dear Ms Millreef? A great country, I know it of old, and the school you mention is perfectly splendid. I used to bump into dear old Dude at conferences, but I imagine he'll have passed away by now, poor chap. Anyhow, I'm sure this is the right thing at the right time for you, although we'd miss you terribly, of course. Do let me know if I can help you make your application letter an absolute little stunner."
    Is your current boss such a paragon? You'll never find out if you keep your guilty secret close like a farrt in the cinema until after you have consummated your treachery.
    Back to us interviewers - another advantage of having the reference in hand before the face to face meeting, is that if there are any sneaky little reservations or ambiguities therein, we can use the interview to probe them, my colleague being a dab hand at combining suave charm with forensic exploration.
    Once again I'll express imbecile optimism regarding human nature (begging the question whether head teachers are truly or fully human).
    While we've all heard speculative chat about heads selling colleagues short because they want to retain them, I have not knowingly seen it happen and though sorely tempted (last week, as it happens) would not dream of actually committing such an outrage. Any head who has, will be most unlikely to waltz in here and fess up to so dastardly a violation of trust and professional ethics. At the aforementioned conferences, I've heard lachrymose SMT drunkards admit to the most repulsive misdemeanours, professional and private - but never that one.
    So my advice, for everyone's sake, is to poke your head through the bars of his cage and come clean to your current head. If he snarls and gibbers, or even more embarrassingly weeps and cajoles, try to be detached and get maximum enjoyment from the human comedy of the situation.
    Good luck, whichever way you choose to play it. If you have read all this, you at least have the sterling virtue of patience in your favour.
  3. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Don't you just love the Dude, folks?
    Can't think of anyone I'd rather work for. Or with.
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Seminars. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
    I shall be doing the Win That Teaching Job seminar at 2pm on Saturday February 25th, and also the Moving into Headship or SLT seminar on Saturday 17th March.
  4. Agree completely TheoGriff about the Dude!
    Dude - looking for an American to teach your kids to sing some Latin?
  5. Are you looking to employee any primary school teachers SMT Dude?!
  6. msmillreef

    msmillreef New commenter

    *coughs impatiently*, erm.... I DO believe SMT dude was answering a question (though quite brilliantly), and any attempts to change the subject or indeed hijack this thread will be dealt with severely - by a stern look at the computer screen. Now you've been warned!
  7. Apologies to msmillreef...now back to the question at hand....
    To the current heads...do you ever "change" your reference comments based on which school the teacher is applying? Do you try to aid the person in getting itno the "right" school or right position so tht YOUR school looks better? If so, should the teacher only use the current head for certain positions he or she knows will be "approved" by the head?
  8. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Yes, naturally.
    Yes again. But everyone benefits.
    Always but not only.
    Apologies for curt replies but this house has just been unexpectedly invaded by teenagers in 'carnival' mode and I will be back tomorrow if they spare my life.
  9. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    Can't quote your whole answer but love your whole answer! You're a witty, clever guy! Not that it means that I like you or anything that soft!!
  10. Ditto.
    But I admit I just love the Dude...
  11. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    You've all been very kind.
    Last night, or rather earlier this morning, as I was persuading the teenage invaders that there was nothing left to eat in the house and they should retire to bed, one Visigoth princess bethought herself to ask in a sweet patronising way if I was enjoying half term too, and if so, in what way. I duly sketched a modest regime of walking, shopping, reading, music and general de-stressing and de-toxing, and mentioned that I'd also been talking to fellow teachers online. Pressed for detail, I described this forum.
    "You guys have your own <u>forum</u>? Like just for teachers? To talk to each other the way we do? About what?"
    The sad, mad thought deflated her party spirit and sent her bemused to the impromptu dormitory upstairs.
    And this morning here is Nemesis, a request for a reference in the in-box. So much for de-stressing and de-toxing.
  12. msmillreef

    msmillreef New commenter

    Wouldn't it be really weird if the reference was for me!? Given the anonymity of the forum there is a small chance it may be.....so remember...... be gentle with me [​IMG]
  13. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    I must have said something offensive in my first reply, SMT. It was pulled.[​IMG] Not sure what offended anyone; so hard to avoid offence nowadays.
  14. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    I did glimpse that reply, and cannot for the life of me imagine what was offensive about it.
    Yes, and that's sad because the currency gets devalued. If every passing squiblet of a remark is deemed to give offence, how can we be sure we've genuinely hit the target when we really and truly want to be insulting?
    MsMillreef: with no first-hand knowedge of either place, and with no wish for further controversy, I am certain you have made the right decision.
  15. msmillreef

    msmillreef New commenter

    Problem is that they may still ask for my references so I really should let them know...or should I just hope they don't and leave the boss in ignorant bliss? Gosh, what to do?!

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